Dec. 10, 2009.
The Pittsburgh Steelers traveled to Cleveland to play the Browns. The Browns were in chaos, suffering to a 1-11 record. The Steelers coming off a four game losing streak, were in desperate need of a win, or any shot at the playoffs would be gone.
The Browns would out play the Steelers, defeating them by the score of 13-9. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 201 yards, but on the frozen field in Cleveland, it was not enough.
During an off-season that saw the Steelers on the wrong side of the media spotlight, Roethlisberger was suspended for Conduct Detrimental to the League, and Santonio Holmes was traded to the New York Jets for a fifth round pick, most observers believed that the Steelers were closer to the basement of the AFC North than the Penthouse.
Many Browns fans even predicted that the Steelers would finish with a record of 6-10, or even 5-11. Most people thought with the Roethlisberger suspension, that the Steelers would be lucky to finish 8-8.
Here we now sit, ready for the Browns to travel to Pittsburgh. The Browns have played respectable during the beginning of the 2010 season, but have been unable to close games out, blowing three half-time leads, and having a record of 1-4.
The Steelers will get Roethlisberger back after his suspension, and a bye week to work on his timing with his receivers.
The Browns will be starting rookie Colt McCoy, a player that General Manager Mike Holmgren wanted to keep from any live action in his rookie season.
With injuries to Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace, the Browns have no choice but to play the young signal caller, and he will be "baptised by fire" against the Steelers top ranked defense.
On the outside, to fans of neither the Browns or Steelers, this game should be a blow out, and not even close. The Steelers are favored by 11.5 points.
Browns fans think differently though. They know that this is going to be a game in which they can turn their season around. They can make a statement. They can again hurt the Steelers playoff chances (two losses in the AFC North).
Roethlisberger has a reputation of extending plays, scrambling around for what seems like hours, before firing to a receiver down field. The Browns have a very young secondary, and many believe that if Roethlisberger can shake off any of the rust he has grown over the last four weeks, he will put up Peyton Manning type numbers.
On the flip side of the field, McCoy is going to see a defense like he has never seen before. Not in college, not in high school, and not even in his nightmares. McCoy will have Dick LeBeau game planning to stop him—Dick LeBeau. The inventor of the zone blitz, LeBeau, the man that is now in the Hall of Fame, with much of that being credited to his amazing schemes.
Vince Young stated after the Steelers defeated the Tennessee Titans in Week 2, that he has never seen a defense like the one the Steelers showed him. What is a rookie, getting his first NFL live game action going to think?
The Steelers running game ranks 13th in the NFL, with 534 yards. That is playing against eight and nine men in the box, daring the Steelers to throw the ball with one of the back up QB's in the game. If the Browns choose to do that against the Steelers, Roethlisberger will have a field day.
Peyton Hillis has been the best off-season acquisition the Browns have had in years. He rushed for well over 100 yards against the Baltimore Ravens amazing front seven. Against the Steelers, he will be going against a defense that held Atlanta's Michael Turner to 42 yards on 19 carries. They then went to Tennessee and held Chris Johnson to 34 yards on 16 carries.
Will the Steelers load up the line and force McCoy to beat them in the air?
What this game comes down to is, the Pittsburgh Steelers, talent wise, are FAR beyond what is on the Browns roster. In order for them to be the team that they want to be, the best in the NFL, they are going to have to not only beat the Browns, but man handle them.
They are going to have to dominate them in all aspects of the game. On offense, the Steelers should have no problem. The defense, the Steelers should have no problem.
Special Teams though, is where the Browns are going to have to make their living. Josh Cribbs has ALWAYS been a thorn in the side of the Pittsburgh Steelers. It seems that every game, he does something electric, to help the Browns at least stay in the game.
The Steelers will have to eliminate Cribbs, and play the type of defense that has led them to their 3-1 record. If they can do that, then they should have no problem moving their record to 4-1.
Pittsburgh Steelers - 31
Cleveland Browns - 10